To watch any of Michelle’s discussions, go to: Michelle’s Facebook Videos or to: Michelle’s Youtube Channel
Wondering about your legal rights and what state and local resources are available to you during this public health emergency? Check out this Resource Guide put together by the District Attorney’s office. The Guide covers questions related to healthcare, mental health, domestic violence, child welfare, food, education, childcare, housing, rent and utilities, employment, immigration, and information on various government offices and resources. Resources for workers on the frontlines can be found at FrontlineMA.org.
The City of Boston has compiled the most essential Covid-19 information in multiple languages – see here. Please bear in mind the information is subject to change. For the most up-to-the minute information call 2-1-1 or visit www.mass211.org.
All physical government and municipal offices are currently closed; however, offices are available by email and phone. You can call the city’s 311 hotline to connect with an office or department. Most departmental services can be handled online. You can access live recordings and an archive of City Council meetings and hearings here. Courts will be closed to the public until at least April 6, 2020. The only matters that will be heard in-person in Massachusetts state courthouses are emergency matters that cannot be held by videoconference or telephone.
NEWS: Governor Baker has now extended school closures through the end of the school year and the closure of non-emergency childcare programs through June 29th. You can read the press release here.
- Remove Learning Support: See here for how Boston Public Schools are supporting remote learning.
- Online Learning: Check out Boston Public Schools’ Resources for Students and Families that provides age-appropriate virtual learning materials for grades K0-12, for English Language Learners and Special Education students. The site is updated weekly.
- No-Interest Student Loan Program: The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) is deferring scheduled repayments for its No-Interest Loan Program for a duration of four months to support relief efforts during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Housing: On March 30th, Mayor Walsh announced the Boston Housing Authority and Boston Public Schools will be making 1,000 vouchers available for families with Boston Public School students who are in shelters now or at risk of displacement. For further details, see here. You can also find emergency shelters and meals through Boston Neighbor’s Program Updates Page.
- Meals for Students: Free breakfast and lunch meals for all Boston students are being provided by multiple YMCA, BCYF and school locations across the city. See here for a map of the locations near you. A full list of meal sites, times, and locations is available here.
- Playgrounds: All playgrounds and tot lots have been closed across the city. Parks are open for passive use, but remember to maintain physical distancing. Please note group sports like basketball and soccer in public parks and fields are temporarily suspended.
- Elder Resources: The state has launched a Nursing Home Family Resource Line for families and communities with the latest relevant information for those in nursing homes: (617) 660-5399
- Utility Security: The Department of Public Utilities has issued a moratorium on utility shutoffs until the Massachusetts State of Emergency is lifted.
Get some tips from Christine Koh, founder and editor of Boston Mamas on parenting during this time by watching our Facebook Livestream discussion here!
For Small Businesses and Nonprofits
Grants and Loans:
- On April 2nd, the City of Boston launched a $2 million small business relief fund. Applications will be accepted starting April 6th. To be eligible, the business must have less than 35 employees, revenues of less than $1.5 million and be in good standing with the city. Apply here for the fund.
- The New England Grassroots Environment Fund has created Rapid Response Funding for community-based nonprofits that are offering or are thinking of offering Covid-19 resources to their communities.
- The Boston Foundation has created a dedicated Covid-19 Response Fund for organizations working with communities disproportionately impacted by this public health crisis.
- The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce has a list of business resources at the local, state and federal level that is updated daily.
- See here for the City’s newly released financial relief handbook for small businesses.
- Many local funders are offering emergency relief funds for nonprofits. See the full list at Philanthropyma.org
- The New Economy Coalition has a how-to guide for small businesses, nonprofits, and cooperatives on how to apply for a federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). See also the federal Small Business Association’s website on EIDL loans.
- Additional funding resources are listed on the City of Boston’s Covid-19 Website.
Operating a Business during the Pandemic:
- Do you operate a restaurant? Register it here so residents see you are open for takeout
- Review the CDC’s guidance for businesses and employers to prepare for coronavirus
- Lawyers For Civil Rights has compiled a legal resource for individuals and businesses here
- TechSoup has pulled together some Nonprofit resources for remote work
- LogMeIn is offering three months of free remote work kits for eligible nonprofits, healthcare providers and educational institutions
- The MA Department of Public Health has created visual resources and posters in multiple languages around Covid-19
- The Greg Hill Foundation and Sam Adams have teamed up to create a Restaurant Strong Fund. Check here for how to apply for a $1,000 grant. USBG National Charity Foundation has launched a Bartender Relief Fund.
- Mass Legal Services has resources on SNAP Benefits and food assistance for workers with reduced hours or those who have lost employment due to Covid-19.
- Watch our Facebook Live discussion with Orlie Roberts, Owner and Chef at Zaz Restaurant
- Lawyers For Civil Rights has compiled a legal resource for individuals concerned about their employment and medical rights here
- The City of Boston recently announced a $3 million rental relief fund for city residents at risk of losing their rental housing because of Covid-19. Learn more about your eligibility and the fund here. Applications will be made available starting April 6th.
- A moratorium on Boston Housing Authority (BHA) evictions is in effect. This will last while Massachusetts is under a state of emergency. If you receive a notice of eviction contact the Office of Housing Stability at 617-635-4200 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Are you experiencing landlord discrimination or mistreatment? Contact the City’s Office of Fair Housing and Equity 617-635-2500.
- Check your internet provider here for special offers for low-income residents.
- The Department of Public Utilities has issued a moratorium on utility shutoffs until the Massachusetts State of Emergency is lifted.
- The Massachusetts Housing Courts will not enforce non-emergency evictions until at May 2020. See here for further information.
For Artists and Musicians
- Apply for a $500 grant from the Boston Artist Relief Fund. Musicians and singers can check out Boston Music Maker Relief Fund and Boston Singer’s Relief Fund.
- Springboard for the Arts has launched an Emergency Relief Fund as well, as has Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in partnership with NYFA.
- Philanthropy.ma has pulled together a list of local relief funds for artists and individuals.
- The National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response has a Covid-19 website.
- WBUR has also pulled together a list of grants and resources for local artists.
- Resources for freelance artists can be found here.
- Planning a virtual event or want to connect with artists? Check out the City’s list of virtual arts and events!
Our City is here to protect all residents, regardless of immigration status. Please see the City of Boston’s Resource Guide for Immigrants for further information.
- Thăm website http://boston.gov/covid-19-vi trên mạng để biết thêm tin tức trong nhiều ngôn ngữ.
- Посетите http://boston.gov/covid-19-ru для более многоязычных объявлений.
- Booqo http://boston.gov/covid-19-so si aad u ogaatid xogta soo korodha oo dhowr af ku qoran.
- زور ـ http://boston.gov/covid-19-ar للحصول على تحديثات بلغات متعددة.
- 浏览 http://boston.gov/covid-19-zh 具有多种语言的更新.
- Vous pouvez visiter notre site web http://boston.gov/covid-19-fr pour recevoir davantage de mises à jour multilingues.
- Visite http://boston.gov/covid-19-pt para mais informações em outras línguas
- Visita http://Boston.gov/covid-19-cv pa informason na otus lingua.
- Vizite http://Boston.gov/covid-19-hc pou plis enfomasyon nan plizye lang.
- Visite http://Boston.gov/covid-19-es para mas informacion en su idioma.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and Application Support Centers (ASCs) until at least April 1. In the meantime, USCIS will provide limited emergency services. Click here for assistance accessing emergency services. Multilingual Covid-19 information and resources: cities and towns across the US have compiled resources in many different languages. See this Multilingual Covid-19 google folder which contains resources in close to 100 languages. Worker Relief Funds for Immigrants: unemployment and relief information has been compiled by area nonprofits in various languages: Vietnamese, Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Portuguese, Bengali.
Our Asian American Communities
- The State’s Asian American Commission has a list of community based organizations, many of which offer Covid-19 related services to the AAPI community.
- Two organizations, Chinese for Affirmative Action and the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, have created a hate reporting center. Further information and help on submitting a report is available in multiple languages. A list of state and local offices for reporting crimes can be found on the Commission’s page here.
- The Asian Outreach Unit (AOU) of Greater Boston Legal Services is committed to providing access to legal services over the phone. See here for further information. Instructions are available in Chinese, Vietnamese, and English.
- Unemployment applications are available in multiple languages (see “Unemployment” below). Greater Boston Legal Services, Lawyers for Civil Rights, and the Chelsea Collaborative have also been assisting residents in multilingual unemployment claims.
- Racism is a Virus Too: The Nellie Mae Education Foundation created this rapid response fund to respond to the hate crimes and bias against Asian American communities resulting from Covid-19.
- Local Response Fund: The Asian Community Emergency Relief Fund is available for members of the Asian American community who are unable to receive public assistance as a result of their immigrant status.
- Finally, see this post on community care by the AAPIs For Civic Empowerment-Education Fund.
Workers on the Frontlines
- FrontlineMA Resource Hub: MA Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has created a resource hub for all frontline workers – FrontlineMA.org. The site provides information on free and discounted meals, where to get PPE, housing options and more.
- Free Childcare: Employees deemed essential by the Governor are eligible for free access to childcare. Please see here for further information. A list of essential businesses can be found here.
- Discounted Parking: The City of Boston is offering discounted parking at certain lots and garages around the city. You can find the garages on this map. To be eligible, you must present your medical ID. Learn more here. If you get a parking ticket near your hospital, the City will waive the ticket. Just email a copy of your ticket and hospital ID to email@example.com.
- Bike Program for Healthcare Workers: Bluebikes is launching a 30-day program to give essential healthcare workers free bikeshare memberships.
Do you need health insurance? If you do not currently have insurance through your employer or were recently laid off, the Massachusetts Health Connector has extended its open enrollment period through April 25, 2020. See here if you qualify and how to apply for health insurance through the Connector. Concerned about your current insurance coverage? The Department of Public Health has issued the following guidance:
- All commercial insurers and the Group Insurance Commission are required to cover medically necessary tele-health services in the same manner they cover in-person services. The full order is available here.
- Insurers must cover Covid-19 related treatment and testing without requiring cost-sharing of any kind – such as co-pays and coinsurance – for testing and treatment.
- Additionally, insurers cannot require prior authorization for these services. See here for specifics.
- For residents who have MassHealth, please review their coverage policy for Covid-19.
- Medicaid managed care plans are required to cover tele-health and certain other services-by-telephone. See here.
- For residents with existing health concerns, please see this public health resource.
Eviction Moratorium: On April 20th, Governor Baker signed into law emergency legislation that puts in place a moratorium on non-essential evictions. The moratorium applies to residential and small business tenants. The emergency legislation also includes a temporary foreclosure moratorium and mortgage relief for qualifying owners related to the Covid-19 health crisis. The moratorium will be in place until either August 18, 2020 or 45 days after the state’s Covid-19 emergency has been lifted (whichever happens first). Further information here.
Emergency Housing: If you or your family are in need of emergency housing, please visit the state’s Housing and Community Development (DHCD) website. If you need language assistance, call the DHCD main office at 617-573-1106 and an over-the-phone interpreter will be provided to you free of charge. The state has also made the following guidances and assistance funds available:
- Housing Families with BPS Students: On March 30th, Mayor Walsh announced the Boston Housing Authority and Boston Public Schools will be making 1,000 vouchers available for families with Boston Public School students who are in shelters now or at risk of displacement. For further details, see here.
- Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Fund: A new $5 million special fund has been created for eligible households (families and individuals) who may face eviction, foreclosure, loss of utilities, and other housing emergencies. Full details here.
- The state has issued guidance to all state-aided public housing operators, including Local Housing Authorities and private operators, to suspend both pending non-essential evictions and the filing of any new non-essential evictions.
- The DHCD guidance also urges operators of private, affordable housing to suspend non-essential evictions for loss of income or employment circumstances that result in a tenant’s inability to make rent.
- The DHCD is moving to temporarily suspend terminations of federal and state rental vouchers.
- The DHCD will also automatically extend the deadline by which a household issued a voucher must identify a housing unit where they can use the voucher.
- The Division of Banks has also released additional guidance for homeowners and financial institutions regarding foreclosure during the state of emergency. You can find more information on their website
- Further information and clarification about the DHCD guidances can be found here.
- You can also find emergency shelters and meals through Boston Neighbor’s Program Updates Page.
Citizen’s Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) has compiled a huge array of local resources for those in need of housing and housing assistance here. City Life/Vida Urbana (CLVU) is also providing support to neighbors seeking housing assistance through their website here. For the Homeless: The City of Boston is identifying locations to temporarily house homeless residents, including a former hospital at 1515 Commonwealth Avenue. The hospital is expected to open for temporary housing starting Monday, March 30th. A former Boston Medical Center hospital building will also be temporarily reopened and used to meet Covid-19 related medical needs of area residents who are experiencing homelessness. See here for further details. You can also find emergency shelters and meals through Boston Neighbor’s Program Updates Page. Utilities: The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has issued a moratorium on electric shutoffs during the pandemic. Rent and Mortgage Moratorium: The Boston City Council is currently considering a rent a mortgage moratorium during the pandemic. The matter has been assigned to the Housing and Community Development Committee for review.
Transportation and RMV Information
Note: Public Transit is still operational across the state, but residents are advised to stay home. As with any activity that puts you in close contact with others, taking the T is not without risks. The MBTA has reduced service and is prioritizing transport for essential employees. Find out how your line is affected here. New guidelines for using public transit are:
- Customers should board at the rear doors of buses and street-level trolley stops. Seniors and people with disabilities can still board at the front door if needed.
- Stations and vehicles are being cleaned and sanitized with increased frequency.
- Service levels have been adjusted to accommodate ridership levels on each line.
- If you are a RIDE customer, you can add funds to your RIDE account online, over the phone, or by mail. Shared RIDES are no longer available. Please try to book your RIDE 1-3 days in advance.
- Regional bus lines, like Peter Pan, may have limited schedules in place.
- You can keep up to date with MBTA notices by going to mbta.com/alerts, signing up for T-Alerts, service notifications delivered via text or email, or following @MBTA and @MBTA_CR
Street Cleaning: Boston Transportation Department will not be issuing tickets or towing cars during street cleaning for the foreseeable future. Please note that all other parking enforcement rules remain in full effect. Biking: Bike shops and repair businesses are included as essential services under Governor Baker’s Order. RMV: The Registry of Motor Vehicles has extended certain license renewals. There are many actions you can do online, such as renewing your license. The federal government has also recently pushed back the REAL ID deadline to October 1, 2021.
Food and Other Necessities
Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other food distribution stores are considered essential businesses. Many have instituted special hours so our at-risk community members may shop first. At this time, the city’s plastic bag ban has been temporarily lifted.
- Grocery Store Hours for those 60+ and other at-risk community members: WCVB has created a guide of area grocery stores that aside hours for elders and at-risk community members here.
- Senior Meals: The Greater Boston Food Bank has launched a Brown Bag Meals Program for seniors. Learn more here.
- Food Security:
- The City has launched an online map where you can find meal sites for adults, food pantries and soup kitchens.
- Project Bread’s FoodSource remains available. They will continue to have the most updated information on SNAP (including any expanded benefits that may become available) and offer screening and application assistance over the phone. The FoodSource Hotline will maintain its usual hours, with access to Language Line translators, through this crisis. You can reach the Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 and it is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00am to 2:00pm
- Solidarity Supply Distro is offering free groceries Mondays at 5:30 pm at 549 Columbus Avenue. Please see their Facebook post for further information.
- Mass Legal Services has resources on SNAP Benefits and food assistance for workers with reduced hours or those who have lost employment due to Covid-19.
- Greater Boston Food Bank has created a guide to local food assistance providers, see here.
- This Citywide list of community resources features additional locations where food is being distributed.
- Water: In Boston, there is no need to stock bottled water because our water is safe to drink. See the Boston Water and Sewer Commission’s Statement on bottled water.
- Takeout: Find out which restaurants allow takeout and check revised restaurant hours here
- Which Restaurants are Open? With things changing by the hour, it can be tough to tell which restaurants are open for takeout or delivery. You can find the most up-to-the minute changes affecting Boston-area restaurants on Twitter by following: @hiddenboston
- Hand Sanitizer, Masks, Protective Gear: Attorney General Maura Healey has issued emergency regulations making price gouging of these essential items illegal.
Check your eligibility and apply for unemployment assistance through the state’s Department of Unemployment Assistance here. The state is hosting virtual town halls in English and Español on how to apply for unemployment assistance. Application information is available in English, Español, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Chinese and Cape Verdean Creole. Have you lost work? Check out National Public Radio’s article on unemployment resources, rental resources and more.
Resources for Victims of Domestic Violence
Call 911 in an emergency. If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual assault or domestic violence, call the SafeLink Statewide Hotline: 1-877-785-2020 TTY: 1-877-521-2601. The Boston Police Department will stringently guard and protect the identities of all those who wish to aid or help any victim of domestic violence in an anonymous manner. Here are the resources listed by Boston police:
- Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence
- Association of Haitian Women in Boston/ Asosiyasyon Fanm Ayisyen nan Boston (AFAB)
- Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC)
- Casa Myrna Vasquez
- Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS)
- Further Resources, including this Boston Globe article
Mutual Aid Groups
Grassroots Mutual Aid Groups, run by neighborhoods groups and volunteers and intended to help residents meet their needs, have formed all over Boston. You can request assistance from a group or offer services. Here is a list of current Mutual Aid Groups in Boston:
- Dorchester Community Care
- Mutual Aid East Boston / Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo East Boston y Chelsea
- Mutual Aid Jamaica Plain and Roxbury
- South End Coronavirus Support / Ayuda para Coronavirus en el South End
- Mutual Aid Allston/Brighton
- Roslindale Cares Network
- Mutual Aid Muslim-American Society
- Citywide list of community resources
- Citywide Mutual Aid Facebook Group
How You Can Help Your Community
Below are some resources for how you can help your neighbors, loved ones, and the broader Boston community. Please keep in mind that any activity which brings you in contact with others or highly visited areas increases your risk.
- Participate in a mutual aid group (see above)
- Volunteer to distribute food and materials or your time through the Boston Cares volunteer website
- Have time to volunteer with the City? Apply here to help coordinate Boston’s response to Covid-19.
- Donate medical supplies, games, and other items to area hospitals. Some are also looking for blood donations.
- Call your neighbors and friends
- Become pen pals with a veteran. Get involved by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For emergency workers: The Boston Resiliency Fund
- To help provide free food options in Boston: Project Bread’s FoodSource, YMCA of Greater Boston, and Haley House
- To support restaurant workers: Greg Hill Foundation and Sam Adams Fund
- To support undocumented workers who have lost their jobs: MassUndocuFund
- Boston.com has a continually updated list of local organizations and funds to which you can donate
- Donate to community funds like the APEN community fund for Asian immigrants and refugees or the National Domestic Workers Alliance